COLUMBIA — With lowered regulations and no bag limit, Missouri goose hunters will be spraying steel into the sky during the Light Goose Conservation Order.
Light geese include snow, blue and Ross's geese. The overpopulation of these three goose species led to this special hunting season, which will enter its 14th year in 2012.
"The population has gotten so large that it's doing damage to the nesting habitat," said Boone County Conservation Agent Sean Ernst.
The Light Goose Conservation Order opens Feb. 1 and continues through April 30. It allows hunters to shoot until they run out of shells, instead of having the limit of 20 light geese per day that they face during the regular season.
The season is designed as a system of population control, allowing hunters to break rules they would normally have to follow.
During the regular season, electronic calls aren't allowed, and shotguns are limited to holding three shells at a time. During the conservation order, these rules don't apply.
Goose seekers can put away their hand-held calls and load their shotguns to the brim.
There is usually a decent turn-out for the conservation order in Boone County, Ernst said.
According to Ernst, there shouldn't be any problems finding a place to hunt. Farmers often let people set up blinds and decoys on their property, Ernst said. They want to get rid of the geese.
"Farmers experience crop deprivation (from the geese)," he said. "I would encourage anybody to go out and start knocking on doors."
All that is needed to participate in the season is a Conservation Order Permit, which can be purchased at any permit vendor. It costs $5 for residents and $40 for nonresidents.
Exemptions to the permit include:
- Holders of a Resident Lifetime Conservation Partner Permit,
- Holders of a Resident Lifetime Small Game Hunting Permit,
- Those who are 15 and younger and in possession of a hunters-safety certification card or in the presence of an adult who is hunter certified or born before Jan. 1, 1967, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation website.